Economists use a range of goods to gauge consumer prices in different countries around the world.
Beer is one consumable that can be used for such purposes, although not often omitted.
I believe this is because unlike a bottle of Coca-Cola, the local varieties of beer can result in significant price differences. Which left me wondering; where can you visit to find the cheapest beer?
I used GoEuro’s Beer Price Index (2015 and 2016) for beer costs around the world. This index includes both supermarket and bar costs for a 33cl beer. GoEuro’s data also calculates a mean average beer price using the calculation (supermarket cost + bar cost) / 2.
Cost of beer around the world 2016
A 33cl beer will cost you anywhere between $1.14 and $6.59, on average. Lausanne, Switzerland is the most expensive where a beer at a bar will cost you $12.20. That’s over 6 times more expensive than the cheapest city for a beer at a bar, Kiev ($1.82).
Cheapest beers 2016
|Overall rank (overall ave)||City||Country||Average Price for 33cl Beer (Supermarket) in USD||Average Price for 33cl Beer (Bar) in USD||Overall Average Price in USD||Bar – supermarket diff||Bar – supermarket diff pc|
|3||Cape Town||South Africa||0.46||2.12||1.29||1.66||360.87%|
Most of the cities in the top 10 (7) are all found in Eastern Europe. In Bratislava, Slovakia a 33cl beer can be bought for $0.35. At a bar in Bratislava the same beer might cost you $1.58 — a 451% increase! In Budapest the difference between supermarket ($0.28) and bar ($3.13) is 1018% (Paris is the worst — a 1270% increase).
Year-on-year beer price changes
|Price change rank||City||Country||Overall Average Price % Change 15/16|
|1||Rio de Janeiro||Brazil||-43.27%|
|4||Cape Town||South Africa||-39.72%|
|9||San Francisco||United States||-34.01%|
GoEuro’s price index records beer prices falling in 63 of 64 cities between 2015 and 2016! Only Malaga in Spain saw beer prices increase, by 23% — sorry packaged holiday makers.
The fall in beer prices was actually fairly significant with an average price decrease of 24%. The top 10 cities ranked by falling beer price all saw price decreases of over 30%. In Rio De Janeiro, Geneva, and Munich average beer prices fell by over 40%! Oktoberfest is looking cheap in 2017!
Beer consumption 2016
Did you know? Out of the 70 countries considered in GoEuro’s Beer Price Index, the top beer consumers in 2016 were: 1) Czech Republic (144 litres person / year), 2) Poland (127), 3) Serbia (119).
Biggest spenders on beer 2016
|Av spend rank||City||Country||Av. Annual Consumption Per Capita (litres)||Av. annual spend per capita (Supermarket only)||Av. annual spend per capita (Bar only)||Av. annual spend per capita (average)|
|4||New York||United States||85||265.30||1,645.91||955.61|
Whilst Czech Republic, Poland, and Serbia have the highest beer consumption per capita, the relatively cheap price of beer means that they don’t spend as much ($881 per year, $652 and $546 respectively).
Unsurprisingly Lausanne, Switzerland – where a beer at a bar can cost you more than $12 – comes out top for most spent per person on beer each year at $1,118 (even though consumption is relatively low at only 56 litres p/person p/year).
GoEuros dataset has aggregated beer prices. Having access to the raw dataset with prices by brand would be particularly useful in comparing like-for-like differences in prices around the world.
33cl of beer is cheapest in Bratislava, Slovakia at an average cost of $1.14 ($0.35 in a supermarket or $1.93 in a bar).